Today, the Supreme Court announced that it has granted review in three cases. All three cases involve grants of certification, and one of them also is an appeal as of right due to a dissent by Judge Ostrer in the Appellate Division.
Thompson v. Board of Trustees of the Teachers Pension & Annuity Fund is the case where Judge Ostrer issued a dissent. The question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, is “Does Patterson v. Bd. Trs., State Police Ret. Sys., 194 N.J. 29, 34 (2008) require an award of accidental disability benefits to petitioner, a teacher who alleged that she was mentally disabled as a result of three incidents of physical contact at work?” In an opinion reported at 449 N.J. Super. 478 (App. Div. 2017), the majority ruled that Patterson did not require that benefits be paid. Judge Ostrer disagreed.
In State v. Fuqua, the question presented is “Does the offense of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child require a showing that defendant caused the child ‘actual harm’?” Both the Law Division and the Appellate Division, in an unpublished opinion, held that actual harm is not required, rejecting defendant’s position on the issue.
Finally, in Rodriguez v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Court will face the following issue: “Did the admission of testimony by defendant’s expert– that plaintiff had magnified her symptoms and alleged injuries– unfairly impugn plaintiff’s credibility and thereby deprive her of a fair trial?” After the jury in this case returned a verdict for the defense, plaintiff appealed, and the Appellate Division reversed and remanded in an opinion published at 449 N.J. Super. 577 (App. Div. 2017). That court held that the expert’s testimony was improper and required a new trial.